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Planning to Up Your Mileage? Avoid These Common Runners’ Injuries

If you’re a runner, you have goals. You want to increase your distance or pace, or you’re training for a race of a certain length.

If those goals involve increasing your mileage, it’s important to have a plan before you start. The increased distance you’re about to attempt comes with an increased risk of injury, and if you’re injured, you won’t meet those goals.

Injuries often occur when you train more frequently and intensely because your body has to adapt to a new stress level. You’re adding thousands of repetitions when your foot hits the ground with the force and weight of your entire body behind it, and your joints, bones, ligaments, and muscles need time to build stress resilience.

This adjustment often takes longer than building up higher aerobic endurance, so musculoskeletal injuries are common as runners increase their mileage.

At Steven E. Nolan, MD, we specialize in treating sports injuries. While we’re always happy to help you as a patient, we’d rather help you avoid injuries. 

What are common runners’ injuries?

As you increase your mileage, the most common problems are overuse injuries that develop over time. They include:

Achilles tendonitis

This pain occurs in your lower leg just above your heel due to Achilles tendon inflammation. It may also be accompanied by restricted motion if you attempt to lift your toes.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the tissue in the bottom of your foot that leads to pain in your heel.

IT band syndrome

You usually feel this aching or burning on the outside of your knee when you’re active. The aching can even extend up your leg to your hip.

Shin splints

Also called medial tibial stress syndrome, this injury involves pain along your shinbone due to too much stress.

Stress fracture

A stress fracture is a tiny crack in your bone caused by repeated force put upon that bone. They often occur in your lower leg or foot bones, and the pain worsens over time.

Runner’s knee

This condition includes dull pain around the front of your knee, which you usually feel while you’re active or after sitting for an extended period.

How can you avoid these injuries?

To avoid these injuries, you can approach your mileage increase with a few strategies. First, increase your mileage slowly. Plan for about a 10% increase in your mileage each week, and stick to it. You shouldn’t try to increase your speed simultaneously, either.

Give your muscles the time and treatment they need to recover after each run, and learn the difference between natural soreness and pain that requires treatment. (See Dr. Nolan if the pain is sharp or doesn’t improve after a week or two.)

In addition, you should stretch before and after runs, work in some cross-training with weights, and, last but not least, invest in a quality pair of running shoes.

If you end up with an injury or want more guidance on avoiding them, our team is here to help. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 281-720-6909 or book your appointment online anytime.

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